Professor Graham Le Gros and Ian Paterson

Ian Paterson: a tireless champion for the Malaghan Institute

05 August 2019

Ian Paterson was driven to make things better for other people. He suffered great personal tragedy and worked with all his might to ensure that others would not have to endure what he had.

The Trustee and long-time and generous supporter of the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research died of prostate cancer on 31 July 2019, aged 72. 

Director Professor Graham Le Gros said Ian had been key to developing a cutting-edge cancer research programme at the Malaghan Institute. “We will miss him greatly and will work tirelessly to ensure his legacy will be a better future for all those affected by cancer.”

Board Chair Graham Malaghan said Ian was generous not only with his time but also with his friendships and financial support. “The Trust Board will be poorer for his loss.”

Ian’s decade-long relationship with the Malaghan Institute began following the sudden death of his wife Sally from glioblastoma multiforme, a form of brain cancer, during a family holiday in Thailand in August 2009.

The following year, Ian, with his daughters Marcia and Kate, donated $56,000 towards the Institute’s cancer research – a combination of agent fees, staff and community contributions from Just Paterson Real Estate, the company he and Sally co-founded in 1989.

As his daughter Marcia said in a Dominion Post article at the time, the family came up with the idea of fundraising for the Institute soon after her death.

“Because we work together and it’s a family business, we needed something positive to keep us going. If Malaghan can stop other people losing people, then it’s got to be a good thing.”

 The donation wasn’t a one off. Over the ensuing years, Just Paterson Real Estate has donated more than $300,000 to the Institute, and championed the Institute’s cancer research across the Wellington region, and the importance of joining together in the fight against the disease.

After following up the initial donation with a $50,000 gift in 2011, and a further $45,000 in 2012, Just Paterson secured its support for the Institute through its annual Malaghan Month – donating $1,000 to the Institute for every property sold each October as well as money raised from community fundraising events. At the time, Ian said it provided Sally’s family, colleagues and clients with an opportunity to create something good out of their loss.

“We’re proud to play our part in connecting more people with the ground-breaking research happening at the Malaghan Institute. We are in it for the long haul, like most of our relationships our partnership with the Malaghan Institute is a long term one.”

Malaghan Institute Head of Development Jenny Sim said Ian’s commitment to the Institute was not only through Just Paterson and his staff, but his entire family. “It came to the point that when you mentioned Just Paterson it came attached in some way to the Institute.

“Ian believed in our young scientists, and wanted to ensure their success both within New Zealand and Internationally. He was just a lovely man.”

Connecting was a huge strength of Ian’s. A proud Rotarian and keen golfer, he helped rally support for the Institute through the Rotary Club of Port Nicholson’s annual auction and at the Wellington Friends of the Malaghan Institute’ annual charity golf tournament. His generosity and community-mindedness extended well beyond the Malaghan Institute’s research labs, donating his award-winning REINZ auctioneer skills to support charity auctions across New Zealand. 

In 2016, Ian was appointed to the Malaghan Institute’s Trust Board. The same year he was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal for services to philanthropy.

Jenny Sim said once Ian joined the Trust Board, he chaired the Advocacy Committee and through this helped lead a wave of awareness and support.

Fellow Trustee Dr Dianne McCarthy said Ian was absolutely committed to the Institute, to its purpose, its vision, its outstanding staff and their collective contribution and dedication to the betterment of others.

“He genuinely wanted to do all he possibly could to help – and he did so! It has truly been a pleasure, and indeed, a privilege, to know him and work with him. He will be missed but his legacy will live on.”

Paterson Family Mel